Many of us will be participating in the annual Easter Egg hunts this weekend. For those of us who love the taste of chocolate, the colourful wrapped chocolate eggs are one of our favourite treats.
If you have a companion pet or multiple pets in your household, you will have to exercise extreme caution during the Easter holiday as chocolate can be very harmful for pets. Chocolate is made from cocoa, and cocoa beans contain caffeine and a related chemical compound called theobromine, which can be fatal for your pets if ingested.
Theobromine is in the same family as caffeine and is a type of stimulant which stimulates the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and causes a slightly increased blood pressure. Pets cannot metabolize theobromine as quickly as humans can which is why it has such dangerous and toxic side effects for them.
Darker chocolate contains higher levels of theobromine which means it`s more poisonous for dogs. Dogs may exhibit the symptoms following within 1 – 4 hours of eating chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) as noted below:
- Hyperactive behaviour
- Increased thirst and urination
- Excessive panting
- Digestive problems
- Difficulty keeping balance
- Muscle spasms, seizures
- Rapid heart rate
Chocolate poisoning can even result in death.
Unsweetened baker’s chocolate contains about 390 milligrams of theobromine per ounce, about ten times more than milk chocolate and more than twice as much as semi-sweet chocolate. White chocolate contains very little theobromine. One ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight is potentially lethal.
The real danger lies with dark chocolate. Just 2.25 ounces of baking chocolate could potentially kill a 22-pound dog, while the danger levels for milk chocolate is 20 ounces, and semi-sweet chocolate can be very toxic at 10 ounces. Serious toxic reactions can occur with ingestion of about 100 to 150 milligrams of theobromine per kilogram of body weight.
When a dog shows signs of hyperactivity and agitation or is having seizures, it’s important that you get him or her to the vet quickly. While there is no specific remedy for chocolate poisoning, the vet will induce vomiting. Usually, after that`s done, activated charcoal is given to help prevent the absorption of the remaining toxins. Fluids are typically given along with intravenous drugs to limit seizures and protect their hearts.
Most cats don’t have a sweet tooth and won`t usually eat chocolate on their own but may do so if coaxed. While chocolate isn’t necessarily as lethal for cats as it is for dogs, it should be kept out of reach for them too as it can cause severe health problems.
Keep all candy and sugary foods away from pets. Sugar isn’t good for them either as it can lead to obesity, dental problems and diabetes mellitus. Further, if wrappers are swallowed, your pet risks tearing of the esophagus or intestines.
Treat your pet right this Easter! You’ll find a variety of yummy pet treats that are safe for your pets at Global Pet Foods stores across Canada. Access our store locator via the Global Pet Foods website here: http://www.globalpetfoods.com/store-locations